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German employment offices to mark Scientology-run firms with ‘S’

March 19, 1997 GMT

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) _ Germany will identify companies owned by Scientologists with an ``S″ in employment office data banks, saying job-seekers have a right to such information.

Federal Labor Minister Norbert Bluem defended the plan Tuesday, saying federal employment offices will only pass on such information when they are ``absolutely certain″ it is correct.

``That’s part of the educational duties of the office,″ Bluem told the private television network RTL.

A spokesman for the U.S.-based Church of Scientology, Sabine Weber, criticized the plan as further evidence of government harassment, saying the ``S″ label was similar to a ``computerized Star of David.″

``Earlier it was `Don’t buy from Jews.′ Today it’s `Don’t buy from Scientologists,‴ she said.

Scientologists claim church-followers are harassed by the government, businesses, schools and banks in Germany.

Also Tuesday, Bavaria became the first state in Germany to include the Scientology organization in its annual report on threats to the constitution.

Guenther Beckstein, the state interior minister, called on his colleagues in Germany’s 15 other states to agree at their June conference to place the organization under surveillance nationwide.

A federal-state committee is reviewing whether that is needed.

``Scientology wants to expand its totalitarian internal system to the state and society,″ Beckstein said.